Touch typing in multiple languages – Recaps

I learned touch typing a long time ago. Since I spend most of my waking hours in front of a computer typing either text or code, touch typing is something I can’t live without. Sometimes however, I am faced with a daunting task of writing an email or a document in a mix of two languages. Technical documents in Hebrew for instance, usually contain quite a lot of English terms. I can touch type in Hebrew as well as I can in English, but when the time comes to switch between languages, that weird Alt-Shift combination really kills my flow. I might be nitpicking a bit here, but I can’t tell you how many times I pressed Shift-Alt instead of Alt-Shift and wound up in the application’s menu instead of changing the current language.image

Then there’s the CapsLock key. I don’t think anybody uses it nowadays, and even the touch typists seem to just HOLD THE SHIFT WITH THEIR PINKY and type what needs to be in capital letters. I wrote a small program called Recaps a while ago that converts CapsLock into a language switching key. Now I can’t live without it. I find myself instinctively hitting CapsLock to switch languages never thinking about it, even on computers I didn’t install it on. Needless to say it’s one of the first things I install on a computer I need to work on.

I talked to an old friend of mine last night who said he was using Recaps and spreading it around but he was missing a feature. When there were more three or more languages installed on the computer, Recaps would just cycle through all of them, like Alt-Shift does. Most times however, you only use two languages at any given time, typically English and your native tongue, and only need to switch between these two.

Doing this in Win32 API was a bitch, but I finally got a tray icon and a small menu to work. The menu shows the list of languages currently installed on your computer with check boxes next to them. Hitting CapsLock now only cycles through the languages that are currently enabled and even saves the active languages between runs.

You can download source and binaries for the new 0.3 version from my Recaps page.

I’d love to know if anybody finds it as useful as I do.

8 Comments on “Touch typing in multiple languages – Recaps”


By Eliram. April 17th, 2008 at 10:23

Very VERY useful to me. I’ve just reconmmended it on YNET talkbacks too:
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3532647,00.html

Now that you have a tray icon, would it be possible to change the icon to represent the current language, hence letting us people get rid of the annoying language bar?

By When have you recently used the ‘Caps Lock’? « Tamir Gefen on ALM. May 1st, 2008 at 20:51

[...] here for more details, or download directly [...]

By When have you recently used the ‘Caps Lock’? « Tamir Gefen on ALM. May 7th, 2008 at 17:45

[...] Here are more details, and you can download it directly here. [...]

By zeally. October 29th, 2008 at 12:43

(Sorry for my english, I’m from Russia)
That’s great tool!

Just before I was using lswitch.exe, but this tool doesn’t switch langs within miranda. This issue was exactly the reason I hold on Pidgin.

Now it is possible to use Miranda :)

Recaps is rather easy to install and to use

Big thanx!

By Emmanuel. November 5th, 2008 at 13:51

Excellent tool, thanks a lot!

By etz. October 4th, 2009 at 19:28

Strange behavior – it work with win apps and miranda, but doesn’t work in FAR and cmd.exe session.
“lsswith.exe 20″ work in FAR and most win app except miranda..

By Mehrdad. December 17th, 2009 at 00:11

Great!
I have searched much for such a program. I have found another one too, but Recaps is much smaller and put to use the wasted Caps Lock again, still in good place for touch typing, i.e. not far like F keys. It seems to me that Microsoft doesn’t know what we should go through changing languages! Anyway most people there use English. I hope more people appreciate what you did. They don’t know what pain and wasted times they are going through!

By Alex Besogonov. December 27th, 2009 at 17:44

Thanks for your program!

It’s much better than lswitch.exe, and miles ahead of default Windows layout changer.